Positive Writer

Write with More Confidence and Greater Satisfaction

Exclusive Interview with Jeff Goins, Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author

Jeff Goins is a Wall Street Journal bestselling author of “Real Artists Don’t Starve,” and the teacher of one of the fastest growing online courses for writers, Tribe Writers.

Interview with Jeff Goins:

Jeff, you’ve been successfully helping writers become published authors through your Tribe Writers online course for several years now, and I’d like to take this opportunity to ask you a few questions about self-publishing, platform building, and your online class for writers and bloggers, which is taking over the internet.

Q1 Bryan: Today anyone can self-publish their work, which has created a publishing revolution whereby authors can completely bypass the publishing gatekeepers. What is your take on self-publishing?

A1 Jeff:

I think it’s awesome. There used to be only one “legitimate” way to publish a book. Now, you have a choice. If you do the work of 1) building a platform and 2) connecting with an audience, you can 3) choose how to publish.

You don’t have to wait to be picked. It’s a wonderful time where writers are the most empowered they’ve ever been.


Q2 Bryan: Do you believe self-publishing has lowered the overall quality of publishing?

A2 Jeff:

Any time you remove gatekeepers from a system that has existed for 500 years, you’re going to see a large influx of people exercising their freedom and I believe, as with anything, the cream will still rise to the top.

Now more than ever (since anyone can now publish), it’s important for you to set yourself apart as someone who has something important to say and to reach the right group of people (your tribe) who want to hear what you’ve got to say.

Most people are lost as to the tribe building part and wonder in dismay as to why their words are not reaching more people. It doesn’t have to be that way.

Q3 Bryan: Why should an author consider self-publishing?

A3 Jeff:

1) Because you will respect the publishing process more once you’ve done it.

2) Because you’ll appreciate how hard it is to create, sell, and market a book.

3) The lessons you learn will be immensely valuable if you eventually traditionally publish your work.

In fact, it may even lead you to go with a traditional publisher next time or figure out how to work with a distributor. Or you may discover you’re awesome at it. Especially if you’ve grown your tribe.

In any case, it’s a no-lose scenario. I often meet authors who first self-published and then leveraged that opportunity to get a traditional book contract. But that doesn’t even have to be the point; the point is: You’ve got something to say, and the world needs to hear it.


Q4 Bryan: Are there still benefits to working with a traditional publisher?

A4 Jeff:

Yes. The main one being increased distribution and the ability to work with an entire team of experts (if you’re lucky).

Is it the only way or always the best way? No, of course not. But it should be an option you consider. If you’ve built a platform and a tribe, you will have a choice in how you publish.

Q5 Bryan: In your experience what are the most important factors when self-publishing that authors should take into consideration?

A5 Jeff:

There are three of them:

1) Build an audience that anticipates your work BEFORE it comes out. (If you’ve already published you still need to build an audience / tribe.)

2) Write a really good book.

3) Launch it well.

The audience-building part is essential, especially for self-published authors, and frankly, nearly as much for traditionally published authors as well now.

The quality of book will help you stand out from the masses. And a good launch is possible with a tribe and will give your book enough lift to reach new people and give it a good shot at long-term sales.

Q6 Bryan: Tribe Writers is an online writing and platform course you created for authors who would like to build a platform and get the audience they deserve, as well as publish their work. In what ways is building a platform important for the self-published author?

A6 Jeff:

It is essential. Without a platform, you’re gambling.

Does that mean you can’t still succeed without one? No, of course not. But it raises the stakes and increases the risk.

The best way to ensure your book sells is to build an audience around the content before you publish. And the best way to do that is through a platform that leverages permission and trust.


Q7 Bryan: How important is it to have a published book, regardless of how it is published?

A7 Jeff:

My friend Michael Hyatt (former CEO of Thomas Nelson, a book publishing company) says a published book is still the number one way to identify yourself as a leader or expert in a category.

I agree. But what I love even more about a book is that it’s a shareable idea, a consumable piece of content that spreads your message and connects with people.

I love blogging, but nothing connects with a reader quite like a book. And so it’s even better when you have a tribe to share the book with, and they, in turn, can share it with others and so on… This is the way many books become bestsellers and today’s authors become household names.

Q8 Bryan: How does your Tribe Writers course help? I’ve seen where you’ve posted 4 main points about Tribe Writers, can you list them for Positive Writer readers?

A8 Jeff:

Sure, Tribe Writers will help:

1. Identify your writing voice and clarify your message.

2. Build a platform by mastering the art of blogging and online marketing.

3. Find your 1000 true fans through email list-building and networking.

4. Publish your work and start making your first $1000 as a writer.

Tribe Writers is designed to help writers stop procrastinating, find their tribe, and get their message out there. So, all of that together creates a pretty powerful platform. Your readers can find out more about the course, (click) here.


Q9 Bryan: Your Tribe Writers course has had unprecedented success. It’s helping writers and bloggers not only build their tribes but also publish books and create bestselling hits. How does that make you feel?

A9 Jeff:

I’m humbled. I’ve been amazed at the community that’s formed around this course. In many ways, the relationships and connections are far more valuable than the content. I’m honored to be a part of it and so impressed by what the students are doing with what they’ve learned and beyond.

Q10 Bryan: What would you like to say to those who are frustrated and ready to call it quits?

A10 Jeff:

Don’t quit. We need your voice. In the end, what it means to be a good writer has less to do with skill and more to do with perseverance. Stick with it; you won’t regret it.

Thank you, Jeff, for your thoughtful answers and your time. And congratulations on the success of Tribe Writers!


Thanks, Bryan. The honor’s all mine. You’ve done an amazing thing with Positive Writer. I’m a fan!

About Bryan Hutchinson

I’m a positive writer and when that doesn’t work, I eat chocolate. I help fellow writers overcome doubt and thrive! In my free time, I love visiting castles with my wife, Joan. Join me on Twitter and Facebook.

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  • Great interview Bryan. Really liked it.

  • Kathy Holzapfel

    Enjoyed this interview, Bryan! Jeff Goins “walks the talk.” I’m eager to read The In-Between – but my want-to-read pile is HUGE. Can you or Jeff comment on how one balances reading/input with creating/output? Do you have a method/benchmark for selectivity? The amount of great content available – books, articles, blogs – has exploded the last few years. (And I do mean “great” – the “not-great” is wonderfully easy to ignore.) I don’t expect, or want, to read it all, but I’m struggling with how to select/limit/filter the meaningful-to-me.

    • I started listening to audio books. It’s helped me manage my reading pile with a little more ease and a little less guilt.

    • Yeah, I listen to audio books in the car, and usually only read print or kindle books just before bed, which is the most enjoyable time for me. I write in the early morning when I am fresh. 🙂

      • Kathy Holzapfel

        Thanks, Bryan! I had a “doh!” moment when I saw that both you and Jeff mentioned audio books. Also a great reminder of the need to produce audio versions of our work.

  • I LOVE this. I am so inspired by Jeff and also this awesome site of yours. Keep up the great work, fellow writer.

    The How to Guru

  • kathunsworth

    Thanks Bryan and Jeff I can say after completing this course, it has changed the way I think about my writing. I am not afraid to call myself a writer anymore and Jeff has sent me on a new path with directions I never thought possible. I have been set free, free to work hard and believe I have something special to share with the world.

  • Bryan, enjoyed your interview with Jeff. Such insightful questions about the writing life, platform and Tribe Writers, something I’m considering strongly this time around. Thanks for continuing to bring the best to our attention.

  • Bryan, asked the questions that cut right to the chase. Thank you. Between you and Jeff, Tribe Writers is summed up nicely. Tribe Writers opened up a world for me that I did not know existed. It broadened my knowledge, it made me realize that I am not alone, that there are people out there that think as I do and together we encourage each other to succeed. To not give up on our dreams. To accept failure when it happens and to persevere no matter what.
    Tribe Writers has our backs.

  • Great interview. I agree with Jeff in most every area. I have grown a bit weary of trying to build a “platform.” In fact, I’ve decided to intentionally work less at building a platform for two reasons.

    1. When I make an effort to build a platform, I tend to try too hard. This can create a style of writing that is not completely my own, but is me trying too hard to be like everyone else trying to build platforms. Does that make sense?

    2. I’m a single dad with a full-time teaching job who just bought his first home. My experience with building a platform as recommended by those who have gone before me requires as much as three hours or more a day. This is time I simply need to use for more important family matters.

    I won’t quit. But I’ll be more intentional about my time.

    • I hear you, Dan. I have a full time job as well. I think a platform of some sort is necessary, and 3 hours a day is time I just don’t have. Creating Positive Writer took quite a bit of time getting it up and running, but I have limited myself on purpose to only 1 or 2 posts a week, and quality guest posts help as well. By doing it this way I have control of how much time I spend working my platform. And, no, please don’t quit! 🙂

  • Penelope Silvers

    I’ve been reading Jeff’s books since I downloaded, “You Are a Writer (So Start Acting Like One)”. This book was one that set me off on my writing journey. It made me ask the question, “Why not me?”

    Thanks, Jeff and Bryan!

  • Very interesting interview. I am still navigating this social online universe and haven’t completely embraced the idea of self-pub. What I will say is that I encourage every new author to consider the query process. I have learned much from reading between the (rejection) lines and it has made my writing stronger.

    I think it’s great that you encourage everyone, I need all I can get. I worry that there is not enough emphasis placed on honing writing skills, joining critique groups and even the dreaded querying? But, perhaps you are correct, when you say the cream will rise to the top.

    At any rate, I am happy to read this interview and will spend some time finding out more about Jeff Goins.

  • Susan J. Reinhardt

    I’m published through a small, traditional press, but I still encounter readers that pose the question, “Are you self-published?” They visibly relax when they hear I’m not self-published. So, the stigma is alive and well.

    I have nothing against self-publishing, but I think authors going that route have to work twice as hard for acceptance. Hopefully, we’ll see more quality. As readers are pleasantly surprised, they won’t be hesitant to plunk down their hard-earned money for indie books.

  • “Because you can”. Wonderful interview! It’s very important in the self-publishing market to remain absolutely positive. It’s a long hard game.

  • Nicely paced interview with plenty of useful information. I admire both of you for your missions to keep writers moving through the rough spots. Will be reading and processing everything shared in the days to come. Thanks!

  • Sheila

    I have heard that the incidents of pirating selfpublished ebooks that have become or are becoming successful are very common. This is very offputting to selfpublishing.

    • Sheila, this actually happens more to traditionally published books. It’s a shame but it’s a part of the market now.

      • Sheila

        Are you sure about that Bryan? That’s not what I’m hearing. Surely it’s harder to copy a printed book than an ebook? Ebook is easy-peasy.

        • Sheila

          Ah. The PDF format of pirated works. They are obviously pirated, so the reader must make that choice.

        • I’m certain of it. Nearly all books are available digitally now (Kindle etc). If it’ is digital it can be pirated. Any of the current NYT bestsellers are available for free via file sharing networks. It’s not any hassle to get them if you know how.

          • Sheila

            Right. I didn’t know they were done in both formats now. I tend to buy paperbacks because a. I like them that way. b. because I can’t afford a kindle. 😉

  • amacash

    Really interesting. Thanks for these insights. I’m just getting started https://startswithoutends.wordpress.com/

  • Kevin North

    Great interview! Always nice to be reminded that cream rises to the top. Now all that’s left to do is write an outstanding book…

  • N K

    What a lovely interview 🙂 I’m a fan of both Bryan & Jeff. You guys are so helpful, thanks !